Effective business writing is essential to every admin’s job. Your day-to-day work involves writing memos, meeting minutes, proposals, reports—and dozens of emails. Effective business writing is clear, concise, and motivating. Skilled business communicators are respected and influential. Here are nine tips for more effective business writing.
First, figure out what you want to achieve What action do you want your readers to take? Add a meeting to their calendar? Submit a report by Thursday at 9:30 a.m.? Review a proposal to be discussed the following day? That’s step one.
Next, create an outline Bullet out the points you wish to make and determine the order in which your argument or “ask” will logically flow. This will give you confidence in your writing and the structure you need to help you avoid repetition and tangents.
Present your main point first Your readers are busy. Tell them upfront what you need them to know or to do. Make your point, then provide supporting information.
Be concise Longer sentences and bigger words do not make for effective business writing. Keep sentences short and to the point. Don’t use multiple words when one will do. Don’t write “as a result of ”—write “because.” Delete prepositions. For example, change “the signature of the boss” to “the boss’s signature.”
Write in a conversational tone Avoid “big” words like “leverage,” “incontrovertibly” and “incentivize.” Eliminate most adjectives (“very” “really” “absolutely”). Choose words like “rush” over “accelerate” and “use” over “utilize.” Do use contractions. Formal, technical, or flowery language turns readers off.
Use the active voice In the active voice, the subject of a sentence performs an action. Active: “I am submitting the report.” In the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the verb. Passive: “The report is being submitted by me.”
Avoid acronyms Industry terms may be recognizable to team members, but what about people outside your department or company? If you must use an acronym, define it for readers.
Print your document and read it aloud This is the best way to hear any awkward phrases, out-of-context arguments, and wordy language—as well as to find typos spell check has missed.
Practice Business writing is like any other skill, and you can improve yours with practice. Hone your words and sentences until they shine. Remember that effective business writing never fails tomake a great impression!